California dreamin’

Summer is drawing to a close here in NorCal but I’m happy to report that I’ve received an extension and will be in Arcata until October. As much as I’ve explored over the past 5 months, there is still so much more to see! Not to mention learn!

Summer in California is synonymous with wildfire and this year has been no exception. As I write this, over 60 fires are raging across the state, thousands of acres have burned, hundreds of miles of dozer line has been cut into the wilderness, and millions of seeds will soon be needed for rehabilitation. Californian wilderness is highly fire adapted with many species thriving in the space created after a blaze, however too many fires in too short of a time period can cause biodiversity loss and dramatically increase the susceptibility of the habitat to invasion from non-native plant species. The time immediately following a fire can therefore be a critical window to perform rehabilitation with native species, and the National Seed Strategy for rehabilitation and restoration, launched by the BLM this week, aims to address this specifically by having the right seed available when necessary so it can be on the ground as soon as possible.

I have spend the last month out and about for SOS, collecting the seed from native species that may be used in these future rehabilitation projects. I can’t begin to tell you how much satisfaction this has brought me, knowing that I am directly contributing to better rehabilitation. It was also an incredible “from the ground up” learning experience for me, watching the phenology of a plant from start to finish, learning the morphology at each stage, and waiting for that perfect moment to pluck the fruit from the plant.

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